Monday, October 31, 2005

DEA Hijacks Red Ribbon Week

It's time to paint the town blood red...again.

Red Ribbon Week began in the mid-80s, at the height of Reagan's presidency, amidst the cynical fear-mongering of Just Say No to Commies, AIDS and CIA Crack, with the goal of sending a message (especially to children) that "drugs are bad" (excluding alcohol, tobacco, and a host of pharmaceuticals, of course).

I believe children should be educated about drugs, with a solid context of science and health (D.A.R.E. taught by doctors and former addicts, rather than just police), I'm appalled by Chief DEA prohibitionist Karen Tandy's video clips. She does her best to appear earnest, referring to her agency as a "family" that cares about "children", but she looks like she's trying way too hard. Every facial movement, each inflection of sincerity, seems utterly choreographed. She's looks nervous, like she really doesn't want to be there. Like just maybe she knows what she is doing is somehow absurd, but doesn't know how to stop.

Whether or not she knows, it is absurd to overlook the fact that DEA agent Kiki Camarena (a loving husband and father who truly believed in the cause) did not just "give his life", but was brutally tortured to death and buried in the desert by money-worshipping mobsters who profit immensely from America's drug war. Were it not for prohibition, those mobsters would not have possessed a motive to kill him. In fact, the drug cartellians would not even exist. Some of them may have become legitimate businessmen instead - dealing in strictly regulated products, paying taxes, operating above the radar, no violence involved. But under the shadow of prohibition, the mob thrives and their products are distributed with no regulation for quality control or dosage consistency, and no age restrictions.

The mob bosses (and the terrorists they support) don't care if law enforcement officials catch 10% of their shipments (that's about what they catch), so long as the legislators keep making the other 90% worth its weight in gold. The cartellians will laugh all the way to the bank, while the police are sitting ducks - like Kiki Camarena was.

This was the brutal lesson of alcohol prohibition. Because alcohol was dangerous, it was better to successfully regulate 99% of it, rather than only seizing a small portion while simultaneously transforming the streets into war zones and ensuring mob profits and underage use of unregulated product. I won't quote Santayana, but history is redundant when fools take the helm.

If we can spend hundreds of billions of dollars and yet can't even keep illegal drugs out of the prisons (which have grown considerably, thanks to the drug war), then is it likely we could eliminate illegal drugs by spending trillions to convert America into a big prison? A "drug-free" America would be nice - so would a stairway to heaven, and I don't see our born-again legislators pouring billions into that pet project.

It is absurd to dishonor the memory of fallen agents and officers by holding up sanitized versions of their deaths and using their grieving family members as political shields. In reality, if our federal government had learned from alcohol prohibition (regulate for safety and health, don't prohibit in moral judgment), Kiki Camarena would still be alive today, along with hundreds of other police officials, not to mention innocent bystanders, suffering patients, targeted journalists, assassinated officials and untreated addicts, who have shed enough collective blood in this 100-year failed war to dye a million ribbons red.

Guess it just goes to show, they can wrap garbage in a flag, but it still smells like a big-ole hunka junk.


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